In retrospect, the plan was borderline genius. Before the Los Angeles Football Club had any players, it started to sell its brand. What it was really selling was an idea, specifically the idea that this franchise would be different from any other franchise in Major League Soccer.
The blank roster was part of the magic, as there weren’t any names to remind potential customers of how the team would be an MLS team bound by MLS rules that would almost certainly play like an MLS team. And it worked, with more than 17,000 fans placing deposits for season tickets for the team’s inaugural season in 2018.
LAFC has a slick logo and stylish merchandise. The team will play in a new state-of-the-art soccer-specific stadium next to the Coliseum. The ownership group includes Magic Johnson, Will Ferrell, Mia Hamm and Tony Robbins.
How can the on-field product possibly live up to any of this?
Watch any of the cinematic videos posted to the team’s social media accounts or listen to any of the romantic language used by executives to describe the franchise’s long-term vision and you would expect them to play like Barcelona.
“To look in the direction of top teams and say, ‘That’s what we want to be,’ ‘That’s the kind of football we want to play,’ that’s a good thing,” Bob Bradley said.
Bradley was hired this week to coach the team, but what he was really hired to do was bridge fantasy and reality, which, frankly, feels almost impossible. Introduced at a Friday news conference, Bradley was careful not to make any short-term promises he won’t be able to deliver.
He spoke of the future, of wanting his team to play with an attractive style, of wanting LAFC to transcend soccer and become as important to the city as the Lakers or Dodgers. He declined to place a timeline on any of this.
“Sometimes things come together quicker, sometimes they take time,” he said. “The commitment to the…